Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Dec. 8

Alberta is imposing strict new measures in an effort to curb soaring COVID-19 infection rates, including a ban on outdoor and indoor social gatherings, a mandatory province-wide mask rule and the closure of dine-in service at restaurants and bars.

Alberta imposes tough new restrictions, bans all outdoor and indoor social gatherings

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced a series of new measures aimed at curbing soaring COVID-19 infection rates in the province. (CBC News)

The latest:

Alberta is imposing strict new measures in an effort to curb soaring COVID-19 infection rates, including a ban on outdoor and indoor social gatherings, a mandatory provincewide mask rule and the closure of dine-in service at restaurants and bars.

The new measures, which CBC News earlier reported based on a leaked internal government document, were confirmed by Premier Jason Kenney at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

The province will also close all casinos and gyms, impose mandatory work-from-home measures and further limit in-person attendance at places of worship, among other measures.

"I've made no secret of the fact that Alberta's government has been reluctant to use extraordinary powers to damage or destroy livelihoods in this way," Kenney said in announcing the new measures.

"It is why we have stressed education, together with personal and collective responsibility, from the very beginning."

The mask mandate and the ban on social gatherings will take effect immediately, while the work-from-home measures and other new restrictions will go into effect at midnight on Sunday. The new measures will be in place for a minimum of four weeks.

The announcement came as Alberta reported 1,727 new cases and nine more deaths, and set another record with 20,388 active cases.

 There are 654 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 112 of whom are in ICU, both record highs for the province. Kenney said hospitalization numbers have grown by 600 per cent since the last week of October.

Meanwhile, Manitoba on Tuesday extended its own sweeping COVID-19 restrictions into the new year, which means holiday gatherings won't be allowed.

At the same time, officials added a number of exemptions to the provincial health order, including lifting a ban on drive-in church services, which some churches have flouted recently. As well, thrift stores will be allowed to open and sell non-essential items, and acupuncture and osteopathy services will be permitted.

WATCH | Manitoba extends COVID-19 restrictions into January:

Manitoba extending public health orders until January

2 years ago
Duration 2:09
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister extended the current public health restrictions in the province until Jan. 8, 2021, saying people need to stay apart now so they can be together in person next year.

The announcement came as the province reported 245 new cases, 13 more deaths and a test positivity rate of 13.3 per cent.

Manitoba initially brought in provincewide restrictions on Nov. 12 and later tightened the measures even further. Premier Brian Pallister said the orders have worked but restrictions are still needed.

"They're working. They're beginning to make a difference. You're beginning to make a difference, and that is critical as we move forward," Pallister said.

"This is not a victory lap. These numbers are not sustainable … but Manitobans need to know that what they've done has helped."

What's happening across Canada

As of 7:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada's COVID-19 case count stood at 429,035, with 71,968 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 12,867.

British Columbia reported 566 new cases and 16 more deaths on Tuesday. Hospitalizations rose to 352, the province's highest point since the start of the pandemic.

The province on Monday extended COVID-19 restrictions to Jan. 8, which include a ban on hosting or visiting people from different households with very few exceptions.

WATCH | Canada needs to build vaccine registry as doses delivered:

Canada will need to build vaccine registry as doses delivered

2 years ago
Duration 3:29
Experts say Canada's COVID-19 vaccine rollout needs something it doesn't currently have: a dynamic federal vaccine registry that can gather granular data about who has been vaccinated, who needs to be and how they reacted. There are only several, unlinked provincial databases in the country.

Saskatchewan reported 183 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, and six more deaths, the highest single-day increase in the province's death toll since the pandemic began.

Five of the people who died were in their 80s and the sixth was in their 30s.

Saskatchewan now has 406 active cases per 100,000, which is the second-highest in the country, behind only Alberta's 459 per 100,000.

Ontario on Tuesday reported 1,676 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 3,808.

As of Tuesday, the province reported having 794 COVID-19 patients in hospital, with 219 in intensive care units.

The update from Health Minister Christine Elliott comes a day after the province reported 1,925 new cases of COVID-19 — a new daily record. 

Elliot on Tuesday said the province is planning to issue some kind of proof-of-vaccination card to those who receive their shots.

Quebec on Tuesday reported 1,564 new cases of COVID-19 and 36 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 7,313.

Hospitalizations increased to 835, with 114 people in intensive care units, according to provincial data.

As Quebec deals with rising COVID-19 cases and increased pressure on its health-care system, Premier François Legault said Tuesday his government isn't ruling out implementing further restrictions.

Legault told reporters the province is continuing to discuss the situation daily with public health officials, but no firm decisions have been made on stronger lockdown measures.

"We follow the situation every day," Legault said. "We don't exclude any additional measures, but I don't want to speculate on what those measures could be."

In Atlantic Canada, Prince Edward Island reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, leaving the number of cases in the province at 84. P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison announced four additional cases on Monday, all individuals in their 20s and 30s.

WATCH | P.E.I. official clarifies testing call for 20-somethings after 'tremendous' response:

'Tremendous' response to testing call for 20-somethings, P.E.I. official says 

2 years ago
Duration 1:28
P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Heather Morrison says the province is trying to prioritize and manage the high demand for COVID-19 tests after a 'tremendous' response to calls for widespread testing of 20-29 year old Islanders.  

Morrison said at a briefing Tuesday that enforcement of new temporary rules will focus on gatherings, and warnings will be followed by fines.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case on Tuesday. Premier Andrew Furey said on Monday the province would not be rejoining the so-called Atlantic bubble for at least the next month. That means all visitors to the province will be required to self-isolate for 14 days whether they're from Atlantic Canada or not.

New Brunswick reported five new cases on Tuesday, four of which are in the Fredericton region.

Nova Scotia reported seven new cases on Tuesday, including one at a Dartmouth school.

Across the North, Yukon reported one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 58 — with 10 of those considered active.

Nunavut health officials reported one new case on Tuesday, in the community of Arviat.

There were no new cases reported on Monday in the Northwest Territories.

WATCH | COVID-19's burden on health care extends outside hospitals:

COVID-19’s burden on health care extends outside hospitals

2 years ago
Duration 1:55
COVID-19 isn't just putting pressure on emergency rooms and ICUs. Family doctors are faced with diagnosing and treating patients using telemedicine instead of in person. They’re feeling the strain, and that pressure ends up impacting other parts of the health-care system.

What's happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 5 p.m. ET

As of 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, there were more than 68 million cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide, with more than 43.7 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.5 million.

In Europe, a retired British shop clerk received the first shot in the country's COVID-19 vaccination program Tuesday, the start of an unprecedented global immunization effort intended to offer a route out of a pandemic that has killed 1.5 million.

Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week, got the shot at 6:31 a.m. local time on what public health officials have dubbed "V-Day."

She was first in line at University Hospital Coventry, one of several hospitals around the country that are handling the initial phase of the United Kingdom's program. As luck would have it, the second injection went to a man named William Shakespeare, an 81-year-old who hails from Warwickshire, the county where the Bard was born.

WATCH | British woman, 90, first to receive Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine:

British woman, 90, first to receive Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

2 years ago
Duration 0:48
Margaret Keenan has kicked off a global vaccination effort by receiving the first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Coventry, England. 'Hopefully it will help other people to come along and do as I did,' she said. 

"I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against COVID-19," said Keenan, who wore a surgical mask and a blue Merry Christmas T-shirt decorated with a cartoon penguin wearing a Santa hat. "It's the best early birthday present I could wish for, because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the New Year after being on my own for most of the year."

The U.K. is the first Western country to start a mass vaccination program after British regulators last week authorized the use of a COVID-19 shot developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech. U.S. and European Union regulators may approve the vaccine in coming days, fueling a global immunization effort.

Britain has received 800,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, enough to vaccinate 400,000 people. The first shots will go to people over 80 who are either hospitalized or already have outpatient appointments scheduled, along with nursing home workers and vaccination staff. Others will have to wait their turn.

WATCH | U.K. couple speak about being early vaccine recipients:

Early COVID-19 vaccine recipients in U.K. put faith in science

2 years ago
Duration 4:58
Two of the earliest recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Hari and Ranjan Shukla of Newcastle, U.K., believe scientists have made a safe vaccine and are encouraging their friends to take it too.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she expects the first coronavirus vaccine to become available in the country early next year. The European Medicines Agency set a meeting to discuss approval for the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine for Dec. 29.

In a Monday interview with Metropol FM, a Berlin radio station aimed at Germany's Turkish community, Merkel said the vaccine "will probably be available and approved in Europe from the beginning of 2021, according to everything we now know."

Meanwhile, in Switzerland, the national rail operator said nearly all train travel between Italy and Switzerland will be suspended indefinitely starting Thursday due to COVID-19 control measures that have been required by Italian authorities.

The railway standstill could affect many cross-border workers, particularly in the health-care sector, who travel from Italy to southern Switzerland every day.

Switzerland has recorded high levels of coronavirus transmission but hasn't enacted strict control measures.

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stroll along a shopping street decorated for Christmas in downtown Rome on Monday. (Andrew Medichini/The Associated Press)

In the Americas, U.S. coronavirus cases crossed the 15 million mark on Tuesday as Congress is set to vote this week on a one-week stopgap funding bill to provide more time for lawmakers to reach a deal on COVID-19 relief and an overarching spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

Record cases in at least three states — Arizona, Alabama and Ohio — pushed the cumulative case load to over 15 million, according to a Reuters tally of state and county data. 

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said he's making a rapid recovery after testing positive for the coronavirus and expects to be released from the hospital as early as Wednesday.

Calling in to his own radio show on WABC in New York, the 76-year-old former mayor of New York City said he has been treated with the steroid dexamethasone and the anti-viral drug remdesivir — some of the same drug treatments that Trump received when he was hospitalized with the virus in early October.

Health-care workers conduct COVID-19 testing at a drive-thru site in Butler, Pa., last week. The state is facing a steep increase in cases, prompting the governor to warn additional pandemic restrictions might be on the way. (Keith Srakocic/The Associated Press)

Brazil has signed a letter of intent with Pfizer Inc guaranteeing the delivery of more than 70 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from January next year, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said on Tuesday.

Shortly after, President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted that Brazil will make any vaccine available free of charge to anyone who wants it, once its effectiveness and approval has been signed off by the health regulator Anvisa.

In the Asia-Pacific region, authorities have ordered mass coronavirus testing and locked down some locations in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu following the detection of two new virus cases there.

In Pakistan, officials reported 89 new coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, one of the highest single day totals since the pandemic began. Also Tuesday it reported another 2,885 infections in the last 24 hours. The country's tally of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began is 423,179, with 8,487 deaths.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says social distancing measures will be tightened as cases of the coronavirus continue to surge, with a ban on nighttime dining and more businesses ordered to close.

Lam said at a regular news conference Tuesday that there will be a ban on dine-in services at restaurants after 6 p.m., and venues such as massage parlours, beauty salons and gyms will be closed temporarily. She did not specify when the measures will take effect.

A health worker wearing a hazmat suit walks in a public basketball court being used as a makeshift COVID-19 coronavirus testing centre in Hong Kong on Tuesday. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)

"We all need to be mentally prepared about more measures to be rolled out," Lam said, adding that there was "no choice" given the current virus situation in the city.

Hong Kong is grappling with the latest surge of coronavirus infections, with nearly 1,200 new cases in the last two weeks after a three-month lull.

In the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office says it has called off a plan for a nighttime curfew to contain a coronavirus outbreak during the upcoming Hanukkah holiday, citing legal issues surrounding the order. In a statement, his office said it was searching for alternative plans to prevent public gatherings during the holiday season.

Meanwhile, the Gaza Strip's Hamas authorities are tightening restrictions in the Palestinian enclave to curb a surge in coronavirus infections. The ruling militant group says it will impose total weekend curfews each Friday and Saturday starting this week.

South Africa remained the hardest-hit nation in Africa, with more than 821,000 reported cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — up 4,000 from the day before — and more than 22,000 deaths.

With files from The Associated Press, The Canadian Press and Reuters

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